One weekend earlier this month, a film crew working on a documentary about conversion therapy filled the South Carolina home of McKrae Game, a former leader of the controversial and homophobic counseling method who recently came out as gay.
As Game spoke to the filmmakers that day about how his longtime anxiety issues disappeared after coming out — and denouncing conversion therapy — his wife remained out of sight.
“This is hard for her,” Game, 51, tells PEOPLE. “That day the film crew came in all day, she felt trapped in the bedroom, she was afraid they would film her.”
“I told her everyone knows she would be left alone, but it’s hard,” he continues. “Her husband is all of a sudden in every media publication around the world. Who the hell saw this coming? Not me.”
Game has not only been inundated with media requests and flown to New York City to appear on Tamron Hall’s new talk show, he has been bombarded with hate-filled messages that include orders to kill himself.
Game says he has handled the backlash by replying to everyone, explaining he understands their anger, to please give him a chance, and that he will continue speaking out about conversion therapy’s harms.
“I get they are pissed off at conversion therapy and I am pissed off too and I agree with them,” he says. “I really believed I was helping people and now I realize I was hurting people.”
In 1999 he started Truth Ministry, a Christian faith-based conversion therapy program that sought to suppress one’s same-sex attractions through counseling or ministry. The organization grew into one of the largest conversion therapy programs in the country, and changed its name to Hope for Wholeness in 2013.
While Game’s family was long used to him being in the media, him coming out and continuing to speak out “is all very embarrassing.”
“My wife is not happy I’ve come out and that I am doing all this,” he says, “but she’s always loved me and she loves me now and she would probably be happy if we live together until we die.”
Game’s wife and 19-year-old son “know everything” about his new life, which includes new friends in the LGBTQ community, while his daughter, 18, doesn’t want to talk about it.
The couple continues to live together in their Spartanburg home as Game struggles to make ends meet doing landscaping and catering. Once ski season begins, he will be a ski patrolman. Game’s made no money, he says, from any interviews.
“I am broker than broke,” Game says. “We live week to week and we are literally poor.”
This struggle with money is a reason he and his wife remain living together, he says, with no money to support two households. Other reasons include a mutual distaste of being alone, and that they are “best friends.”
“It’s what we are doing right now,” he says. “I can see staying with her because she is my best friend but I don’t know. This is hard.”
“People just don’t understand why I haven’t left her yet,” he says. “Regardless of me being gay, we’re best friends. And we will always be best friends. And that’s what I told her, regardless of where I go. You know, my intention is to always be her best friend, and take care of her.”
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